"I Hate Dancing"—And We Love This Video

"I hate dancing more than I can possibly explain," declares the unmistakable voice of British actor and comedian Stephen Fry. It's not the most reassuring statement to hear at the beginning of a dance video. Yet Jo Roy, a Los Angeles-based dancer-choreographer-director, has taken Fry's rant (from what Fry calls a "podgram," better known as a podcast, that he initially published in 2008) and used it as the soundtrack for a two-minute dance film. And it's fantastic.

In "I Hate Dancing," Roy translates the rhythms and inflections of Fry's speaking patterns through her body with such clarity and eloquence that she may as well be producing the speech through her movement. In the gif above, she hits every syllable of the monologue's opening statement. Below, she dances a line declaring formal choreography embarrassing.

The video was published early this summer through NOWNESS—yes, the people who gave us this David Hallberg video, this portrait of Royal Ballet principal Lauren Cuthbertson and this fashion bit featuring Janie Taylor dancing choreography by Justin Peck. Where "I Hate Dancing" departs from these earlier examples is in the tension between form and content—the inherent irony of using dance to illustrate a condemnation of dancing. Since gifs don't really do it justice, check out the full video below.

We can't help but think that the famously tongue-in-cheek Fry might just approve.

 

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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